WATSONVILLE — Sister Julie Hyer, OP, former CEO of Dominican Hospital for more than 22 years, and former CEO of Salud Para La Gente for two and a half years, delivered a donation of $25,000 on Feb. 28 to Salud on behalf of Lifeguard Charitable Fund to support oral health for children and their families.
Hyer described this donation as a personal and life-long cause that began in early childhood when she spent hours writing letters to obtain toothpaste donations for children in need. Hyer, a member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, has been a health advocate since childhood and throughout her religious, professional and civic career.
“Children and oral health are important to me,” Hyer said. “Oral health is often overlooked, and yet it is vital to a person’s overall health. Lifeguard wanted their donation to support children’s health. I remembered my time working at Salud when we first expanded into schools, and so I picked up the phone and spoke with Dr. Amy McEntee, chief medical officer, to learn more about Salud’s priorities today and was very pleased to hear about their extensive efforts to increase access to oral health for children and their families.”
According to the 2018 Needs Assessment Update published by Oral Health Access Santa Cruz County, the proportion of children who had never visited the dentist dropped from 34 percent in 2013 to 15.3 percent. Yet, one in four children still go untreated for tooth decay in the county.
Lifeguard’s donation will support Salud’s ongoing efforts to provide tools, education and accessible dental care to children and their families. Funding will ensure that all of Salud’s pediatric patients and their families receive enough toothpaste, toothbrushes and dental floss for the whole family.
“When children come to the dentist we want to do more than address their oral health needs, we want to inspire them to have good teeth cleaning habits, and prevent tooth problems before they start,” said Dr. Randolph Cross, Salud’s dental director.